South Dakotans can join the list and become the next state to legalize medical marijuana in the US. South Dakota is voting on Measure 13 – a bill that would give qualifying patients and/or their caregivers the right to possess up to 6 plants and 1 ounce of marijuana at a time. A similar South Dakota measure narrowly failed in the 2006 election, receiving 48 percent of the vote. This percentage means that it needed around 15,000 more votes to pass back in 2006.
This time around, the national polls show a growing acceptance of medical marijuana and many advocate groups are promoting a yes vote on measure 13, and the bill itself has more restrictions carefully tailored to win over a skeptical and more conservative electorate. There is a “bona fide relationship” clause that requires a more hand-on relationship with doctors and patients and the one ounce rule. The proposal would legalize marijuana to treat debilitating diseases such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Lou Gehrig’s disease and Alzheimer’s, and conditions such as chronic pain, severe nausea or muscle spasms or seizures.
The opposition is made up of the usual suspects, law enforcement, religious groups and many of the candidates running for elected office in the state, and the mostly conservative daily print newspapers around the state. The Daily Republic, a main print newspaper in the state has come out strong against the measure saying, “Declaring marijuana legal and healthful for certain people is a message that promotes marijuana use, a message that commits doctors to saying it’s OK, and a message to our children that pot must not be so bad after all.’ We will not vote in favor of Initiated Measure 13” The most recent polling data from the Argus Leader this week shows the measure behind with only 32% of the vote, although that is among their readership – a number that generally does not include more Internet savvy younger voters who have abandoned print media. Like most other marijuana initiatives, the large the turnout, the greater chance that it will pass. Please vote yes on Measure 13 in South Dakota.